Understanding the impact of climate change on snowpack extent and measurement in the Columbia River Basin and nested sub basins Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/db78tg09f

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  • Shifting climate patterns in the Columbia River basin are affecting snow pack, and, as a result, stream flow throughout the region. In the Oregon Cascades, ever growing populations, and their associated activities, place increasing stress on an already over allocated hydrologic system. Political pressures, including the possibility of renegotiation or termination of the Columbia River Treaty between the United States and Canada; societal pressures, including a desire for ecosystem services and fish habitat; and economic pressures, including a need for adequate streamflow for hydropower generation and irrigation, all necessitate a better understanding of current and future snow pack. This work focuses on analyzing the ability of the current snowpack measurement system to represent and capture snowpack in the Columbia River basin and its sub basins under both today’s climate and future climates. In addition, this work develops a more comprehensive knowledge of the impact climate warming will have on snow-covered areas across the region. To determine the efficacy of current snow water equivalence (SWE) measurement sites, the locations and characteristics of sites in the McKenzie River Basin, a sub basin of the Columbia River basin, were considered. SWE was distributed through the basin using the physically based model, SnowModel. SWE values at the four SNOTEL sites in the basin ranged from 0.18-0.37 m at peak SWE. Three of the sites had SWE values greater than 180% of average SWE of the snow covered area. Using elevation, aspect and slope, a 16-node binary regression tree explained controlling variables on SWE at the basin scale. As expected, elevation is the primary determinant in SWE distribution, however, the influence of different parameters shifted throughout the accumulation and ablation seasons. Updated high resolution PRISM precipitation and temperature data are used to map areas within the Columbia River basin and two nested sub basins that are at risk of turning from winter snow dominated precipitation regimes to winter rain dominated under warming scenarios ranging from 1-3°C. Within the Columbia River basin, the Oregon Cascades exhibit the greatest degree of sensitivity to changes in precipitation. Under a 2°C warming scenario, an increase that the International Panel on Climate Change finds highly likely to occur within the next 30 years, 30% of current-day snow covered area in Oregon’s Willamette River Basin will be at risk of turning from snow to rain. The water storage that will be lost if such a change does occur (0.73 km3) is equivalent to more than 8 months worth of water at the current rate of water use in the basin. Data from nine regional stations in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS) Cooperative Observer Program were used to validate placement of snow by the model. The conclusions of this work suggest that the placement of snow measurement sites requires refinement and improvement if the measurements are to accurately represent basin wide snowpack today and in the future. Water and natural resource managers will find the results presented here useful for siting future measurement locations that capture and represent SWE during times of interest. While political, societal and economic pressures will only increase, these findings provide early steps for the creation of a more robust system that has the potential to help stakeholders make informed decisions about their water resources, their communities and their needs.
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  • description.provenance : Submitted by Aimee Brown (brownai@onid.oregonstate.edu) on 2009-07-02T20:20:11Z No. of bitstreams: 1 brown_thesis_v3.pdf: 2696781 bytes, checksum: dabede8afa00133f10456dcc6973583b (MD5)
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  • description.provenance : Rejected by Julie Kurtz(julie.kurtz@oregonstate.edu), reason: Rejecting so you can revised the List of Figures pages. Once revised, open the item that was rejected. Replace the attached file with the revised file and resubmit. Thanks, Julie on 2009-07-02T18:53:01Z (GMT)
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  • description.provenance : Submitted by Aimee Brown (brownai@onid.oregonstate.edu) on 2009-07-02T18:28:22Z No. of bitstreams: 1 brown_thesis.pdf: 3136036 bytes, checksum: 788188b399f800d45ae0d86e95f05b96 (MD5)
  • description.provenance : Approved for entry into archive by Julie Kurtz(julie.kurtz@oregonstate.edu) on 2009-07-08T18:10:55Z (GMT) No. of bitstreams: 1 brown_thesis_v3.pdf: 2696781 bytes, checksum: dabede8afa00133f10456dcc6973583b (MD5)

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